Several months ago, I purchased a set of Mitsubishi No. 850 Colored Pencils from Fresh Stock Japan. It was the 24 color set which is reasonably priced at $22 for the pack. The set includes gold and silver metallic as well as an opaque white plus an array of standard colors. The barrels are smooth round and fit into a standard sharpener. The barrels are beautifully foil stamped and the paint on each pencil is stunning. The set is in a plastic case, slid into a paperboard sleeve. The packaging is perfectly Japanese.
The Mitsubishi pencil leads are soft but not quite as soft as Prismacolor Premier pencils. The Mitsubishi pencils seem to be a standard wax pencil that blends pretty nicely on smooth stock for the price point but are not quite “artist quality”. I’d qualify them as a good starter set — more like a student-grade. Most of the colors are opaque enough to show over dark paper. I tested the colors over black gesso to test this range which is a nice added feature.
The color range is pretty broad for a 24-color set though I would have liked an additional bright pink/fuchsia and a true violet or purple in the set instead of one of the blues which are quite similar or one of the reds which are also quite similar. Overall though, with some blending, I was able to get a good range of color from the set for less than $25.
I tested the pencils in drawing on Strathmore Series 500 Mixed Media sketchbook paper which is quite toothy, 100% cotton and the Mitsubishi pencils did not blend as well as Prismacolor Premier or Derwent Artists. I was able to layer Sharpie Pen and Platinum Carbon Pen over the pencil for mixed media doodles so I think on smoother paper, the pencils really do perform nicely. But they don’t soften into the tooth of paper as easily as softer Prismacolors.
Alternately, in a smooth adult coloring book like my new Posh Coloring Book: Happy Doodles for Fun & Relaxation by Flora Chang, the Mitsubishi Colored Pencils were perfect! The smooth paper let the pencils easily blend and mix and the colors really popped. If you’re looking for pencils to pair with a coloring book, the Mitsubishi are a good set to combine and Flora’s coloring book is full of such fun drawings (and I’m only a little bit biased because she works with me!).
So, for doodling, light sketching and coloring, the Mitsubishi colored pencils are a good starter set. For mixed media art-making where you will be doing a lot of textural blending, I’d hold out for a slightly pricier set like Prismacolor Premier or Derwent Coloursoft.